I use iPhoto (the free built in photo app that comes with Macs) to store and manage my photos. I also use iPhoto to edit 95% of my photos because:
a) I find it so convenient to store and edit in the same app;
b) it isn’t as powerful as Lightroom or Photoshop but it’s powerful enough for most photos;
c) once I converted from JPEG to shooting in RAW, this made a HUGE difference to how well I could edit in iPhoto. iPhoto is very “RAW friendly”; and
d) the auto enhance and boosting capabilities are pretty reliable which makes editing really fast.
The one huge drawback is that iPhoto does not export web optimised photos. So after I finish editing, I simply drag/drop the photos into Photoshop then “Save For Web”.
HOW TO EDIT IN IPHOTO
1. Straight out of camera
2. Auto Enhance – this is the first thing I always do because it gives me a good idea of how well parts of the photo come out. Often it impacts my decision on what part of the photo to crop.
3. Crop -always crop before you start doing serious editing. That way you will always see the impact of editing on the actual photo you want to use.
4. Auto Boost – I love this auto function. It boosts the colour and intensity really well for 98% of my photos with a single click. Word of warning: don’t go overboard! You don’t want your photos to look “fake”.
5. Avoid Saturating Skin Tones – this lets you enhance and boost colours without making “skin tones” turn into an intense yellow. It’s especially good for pastries and cakes. You will most likely need to click it if you used Auto Boost.
6. Sharpness – with iPhoto, it’s safe to dial the sharpness all the way up. I rarely do that with Lightroom because it is so powerful I find that sharpness can turn detail into grainy! But with iPhoto, it is safe and it makes a noticeable difference.
7. Contrast – dialling up the contrast slightly intensifies the colour and shadows which makes the photo look more dynamic. Word of warning – use with caution! Too much colour = fake looking food.
8. Save For Web – saving photos optimised for web makes a huge difference to the quality of the image (especially colours). You can’t do this in iPhoto, so I simply drag/drop the photo into Photoshop, then File > Save For Web. Then all I do is resize the photo to the ideal size for my blog which is 680px wide.
Using iPhoto, editing each photos literally takes me less than 1 minute.